The creation of Alba, the first mammal genetically engineered to be a work of art, accents the increasing number of artists who take as their medium plants, cells, genes and other biological materials. Like traditional artists, these bioartists raise traditional art issues; but since their work collapses the gap between art and science, representation and biological form, they also marry the rich tradition of manipulating nature for aesthetic reasons, the ethical complexities created by today's biotech revolution and the historical ramifications of applying aesthetic judgment to humans.

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Author notes

Steve Tomasula is a fiction writer and critic who teaches in the program for writers at the University of Notre Dame. His recent essays on art and culture have appeared in the New Art Examiner, the Iowa Review and Kunstforum.